Come Learn and Share Information about Recycling, Crocheting & Recycled Crafting

Recycling Plastic Grocery Bags and Making Recycled Handmade Items

Posted on January 24, 2007

Hello! This is my first attempt at blogging and the opening blog for this website. I have read other people’s blogs and oftentimes been fascinated in other people’s ideas that they shared through a blog. So here goes.

Ever get tired of all those plastic grocery and store bags you have left over after going shopping? I always asked for paper bags so I didn’t come home with 40+ bags and not much use for them other than filling up our landfills and taking like a 100 years to decompose. Also many animals are injured or killed each year by these plastic bags. But several months ago, a friend had a cute handmade purse she was using. It was very unique looking and appeared to be crocheted out of some type of unusual yarn.

Well, it was crocheted out of old recycled plastic grocery bags! I was shocked and couldn’t believe it. How was that possible? I have crocheted for years and had never seen or heard about such a thing. She explained that her Mother cut the bags up in strips and tied them together to create a ball of “yarn.” I thought what a fantastic idea and a wonderful way to re-use all those pesky plastic bags.

I researched the process and found many other crafters out there doing the same thing. I have seen some beautiful creations of purses, totes, shoulder bags, hairpieces, coasters, rugs, placemats, and other clever uses for recycled plastic bags. Some people crochet, knit or weave to make their handmade products. But no matter what process you use, it is a wonderful, eco friendly use of these bags.

Myself, I have made totes, handbag purses, clutches, and shoulder bags using a large metal crochet hook. I have found that the metal hooks work smoother than the plastic ones but experiment with what works best for you. I clean my hook off with rubbing alcohol to remove any sticky ink or build-up that occurs. That helps the hook move a bit easier when you are crocheting. Crocheting using the plastic bags is hard on my hands and finger joints. I have heard this from others too so please be aware of this. I find that if I crochet for too long my left hand gets very sore. I am a right-handed crocheter. Taking breaks and shaking out my hands does help some.

Anyway that’s my blog. I would love to hear from others who are interested in this topic or people who would like to comment on my crocheted products. I do sell some of my items and hope to use some of my creations for future Christmas gifts for my family and friends. I do hope you too can recycle and help make our world a bit better one plastic bag at a time.

Brown shoulder bag
My shoulder bag created using brown plastic bags.

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26 Responses to “Recycling Plastic Grocery Bags and Making Recycled Handmade Items”

  1. Lisa Hamblin
    Feb 14, 2007

    Hey Cindy:

    Great site!
    I’ve made a few items using recycled bags myself.
    That’s a great way to keep the bags out of the landfills!


  2. lin
    Feb 28, 2007

    hi cindy i’ve been making bags out of recycled plastic bags for years. i just give them away when i’m through. i make all sizes even large that i use for beach bags. i also make rugs my cousin likes to rub his feet on them he says it massages them cool. it was nice to see someone else doing the recycled bags. i have also taught these to people wanting to learn. i’m a full time traveler my husband an i have been on the road since the year 2000 an we love it. lin

  3. Robin
    Mar 10, 2007

    I got one of these bags as a gift once and wondered how they made it and thought how neat to come up with this idea. Now I hope to create my own. I would also like to do the brown shoulder bag, but don’t see that pattern. Great site and I plan to return for updates.

  4. Cathy
    Mar 13, 2007

    I was watching a show on HGTV the other day, and saw a rug made out of recycled grocery bags, but had a few little ones and did not catch the instructions about how to get the bags into strips and was wondering if you could tell me the width to cut the strips of bag. I frequent some stores that have lavendar bags for Easter, another has a chartreuse bag they are using for St. Patrick’s Day, and Dollar General that uses bright yellow bags. My whole family is willing to help me save bags as long as I make all of them a rug too. That means I will be making 7 or more rugs because the in-laws will probably ask too. I feel I am teaching my 11 year old Boy Scout an important lesson about reduce, reuse, & recycle. I will make him a mat for in front of his tent to keep his muddy shoes from getting everything in the tent muddy when he goes camping. I will probably make at least one for the shower at Cub Scout camp too so I don’t end up with fungus again on my foot. My mother would like to have one of the purses, and if you could send a quick e-mail my way, I could at least get that one started.

    Thanks for caring for our wonderful environment!!! If only everyone else would do what we are doing, we could keep as much plastic from making all those horrble ozone killing gases.

  5. Cindy
    Mar 13, 2007


    Thank you for all your comments. I would suggest cutting your strips one inch wide. There are many ways to do it but I have found that if you don’t go too wide it’s easier on the hands and joints. The many color you mentioned are wonderful. Living is a rural area I have very limited bag colors. If you need any more just email me back and I will try to help you. I have a Boy Scout in the house too so I applaud your efforts with the Scouts!


  6. lynn
    Mar 15, 2007

    I really enjoyed reading about all the different things that can be made from plastic bags…….would like to know where i can find patterns for hairpieces, totes, coasters etc……..preferably for knitting but could also try the crochet patterns……….
    I watched an episode on DIY for a tote that i have just started…….

    p.s. or is there a website that i can find patterns for the above……

  7. Cindy
    Mar 15, 2007

    I’m so glad you enjoyed learning about crafting and recycling here! I just sent you a PM to give you some additional info to help you try out some of the projects you mentioned. Many patterns using regular yarn can be modified to use plastic bag yarn. Just cut your bags strips about 1/2 inch wide and experiment with the project. Good luck.

  8. Betty-Ann
    Apr 10, 2007

    Wow ! Thank you for your awesome site. I was looking for a grocery bag pattern crocheted out of old grocery bags and am amazed at all the patterns you have here.

    Thank you for all your time and energy that went into putting all these awesome patterns on the internet. I hope you don’t mind if I print out and pass on some of your patterns from website. Some of my girlfriend don’t have computers but I know they’ll love these patterns and I will be passing on website to girlfriends that do have computers.

    If you have a pattern for grocery bags.

  9. Cindy
    Apr 11, 2007

    Glad you found my site helpful. Private use of my patterns is totally acceptable. I hope you and your friends enjoy the patterns. Come back as I add more things all the time and plan to have a grocery bag tote available soon.

  10. Linda Singh
    Apr 12, 2007

    I just love the ideas. My students and I are doing a project on recycling of plastic bags. one problem however we cannot find the instructions for the patterns. please help us out.


  11. Cindy
    Apr 12, 2007

    I just sent you a pm concerning the problem you are having getting to the complete pattern directions. For everyone else, you can click on the title of the posting or the read more (green link) at the bottom of each posting. The read more link opens up the full posting so you can see the complete pattern.

    If anyone is having any problems, please don’t hesitate on emailing me through the contact me link at the top.

  12. Linda Singh
    Apr 14, 2007

    Hi Cindy,

    Thanks for the patterns.I am wondering though if you have ever done any place mats. If not, why not work on this idea?


  13. Cindy
    Apr 14, 2007

    Yes, making place mats is on my to-do list. I have several things I want to complete and provide the free patterns here. Please check back as I am adding more projects and patterns weekly.

  14. Monica
    Apr 19, 2007

    Hi Cindy.
    Found your site by accident and I’m totally blown away by all the great ideas for preventing plastic shopping bags from going into landfill. Brilliant!! Well done to both you and all the other caring people out there who work at making a difference to the health of our planet. Keep up the good work. I’m about to join you in the plastic bag revolution.

  15. Edith Ossowski
    Jul 28, 2007

    I would like a pattern for a rectangle rug made from plastic bags, if you could help me that would be great.

  16. Cindy
    Jul 28, 2007

    I just sent you a PM. I personally don’t have a rug pattern like that yet here. But do you have a regular yarn pattern for a rug you like? You can just use that and adjust your gauge as desired. Most rug patterns can be made using plastic bag yarn or plarn. I hope this helps.

  17. fazendoarte
    Feb 23, 2008

    lovely your first post

  18. […] I have read other people??s blogs and oftentimes been fascinated in other people??s ideas that ……Grocery bags. Ways to recycle grocery bagsGrocery bags. Ways to recycle grocery […]

  19. Karen
    May 28, 2008

    I am thinking of making a yoga mat or sleeping bag pad from plastic sacks by rolling them really thick for extra cushioning.

  20. Linda
    Sep 30, 2008

    I have been making bags and hats for years, also baskets with a coil stitch. Mostly I give them away , but lately have been selling them. I find that using a double bottom or woven bottom, makes them stronger and hold their shape, I use very thin strips for the hat and use finely cut strips of bleach bottle for stiffening for the brims.The woven baskets will hold water .

  21. Miriah
    Feb 11, 2009

    Hey! Cool! I am also going to make several mats for my husband and my daughters and me to sleep on this spring when we go camping. I think that it will keep us from feeling the ground so much when we put our sleeping bags on top of them.

    Good job blogging. Keep up the good work! :))

  22. julie
    Feb 24, 2009

    Hi cindi
    Absolutely fantastic idea and thanks for sharing it with us all.
    I’ve recently relocated and whilst I look for work I have quite a lot of spare time on my hands and would love to try out a few things. Could you please send me the pattern as well?
    Thanks so much!
    Best wishes

  23. Cindy
    Feb 24, 2009

    Thanks for stopping by. I don’t know which pattern you were wanting. I have all my patterns listed free and here is the link to them all. You can also use the search box on my site to find it also.

  24. Janet
    Jul 10, 2009

    In Feb 2002 I was in NYC and visited the Folk Art Museum where I saw a spepctacular, round, crocheted rug made from bread wrappers dated 1940s (if I remember right). It was near mint condition and about 7-8 feet in diameter!! I’ve seen smaller rugs too at a recent flea market in Devine TX. Thre colorful bread wrappers (such as Wonderbread) give the rugs a nice overall ‘pattern.’ Your items are likewise very nice!

  25. briscoepainting
    Oct 02, 2011

    im so impressed with you creativity and originality… keep thinking of more ways to recycle…keep going!!

  26. […] years ago on January 24, I posted my first blog post here at My Recycled Bags. Since 2007 I have shared and added over a hundred different recycled and […]


  1. […] I have read other people??s blogs and oftentimes been fascinated in other people??s ideas that ……Grocery bags. Ways to recycle grocery bagsGrocery bags. Ways to recycle grocery […]

  2. […] years ago on January 24, I posted my first blog post here at My Recycled Bags. Since 2007 I have shared and added over a hundred different recycled and […]

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About Me

Hello, I’m Cindy or aka RecycleCindy. Welcome to my blog site that is dedicated to recycling and crafting. I love to crochet and create crafts and other useful things from recycled materials. I share many free tutorials and patterns for creating recycled projects as well as other handmade items.

Here is a direct link to all my free patterns available here on My Recycled Bags.

Thank you for stopping by to visit and for your interest in My Recycled Bags!